Ticks found on deer may spread diseases to people, pets and other animals. Bacteria and viruses that can be spread include Lyme disease, Babesiosis, Rocky Mountain spotted fever and Human ehrlichiosis.
Fort Knox MEDDAC’s Preventative Medicine department teamed up with the Public Health Activity Veterinary Services to collect ticks from deer hunted locally on Fort Knox. They utilize a day where hunters are already required to bring their deer through hunt control.
When the deer are brought in to be weighed, the tick collection team determines where/when to examine deer without interfering with the hunt control operations.
“Collection of ticks from harvested deer is part of Environmental Health’s entomological surveillance,” said Kerri Martin, Sr. Environmental Health Technician. “These collected ticks offer insight into the species of ticks and the pathogens of tick-borne illness those ticks may be carrying that are present on the Installation and surrounding areas.”
The ticks are sent to Public Health Command-Atlantic for species typing and tick condition analysis, such as sex, level of engorgement and pathogen testing.
“This data has provided information on ticks that are more active in the colder months that we would normally not be able to survey due to the weather and the risk of trapping/releasing wildlife,” said Martin. “The ticks collected off the deer are a representation of the ticks that are feeding on the Ft. Knox wildlife.
Tick surveillance has shown that the species active in summer are not the same as winter. Summer collection indicates the Lone Star tick, but the ticks collected from the harvested deer indicates the Black legged tick (“Deer Tick”) population to also be concerned about, as well as the American Dog Tick, all three of which are vectors of tick-borne illness.
“This data is used in entomological risk assessments for Soldiers training and working on Ft. Knox as well as to educate Cadets/Cadre of Cadet Summer Training of the entomological risks on Ft. Knox and how to prevent those tick encounters,” said Martin.
“We are here assisting Environmental Health with tick collection because the information we get back helps us protect the pets of Fort Knox,” said Cpt. Lauren Dodd, Veterinary Clinic officer in charge. “We truly believe in the One Health approach that recognizes the interconnected nature of human, animal and environmental health.”
“During this tick surveillance event, we also have an opportunity to speak with and provide education to the hunters concerning prevention of tick bites and tick-borne illnesses,” said Martin. “Through the act of hunting, the hunters are placing themselves in prime tick habitat.”
The tick collection team presented information pamphlets to all the hunters, because the ticks that have been attached to the harvested deer will begin to fall off as the deer’s body and search for another host.
As the hunter brings the harvested deer back to their home/yard, this could place the hunter, the hunter’s family or pets in danger of a tick encounter.
“Our goal is to educate about prevention of tick exposure. Prevention is key. Tick checks. Prompt removal of ticks,” said Martin.
For those who are associated with the Department of Defense (DOD), if you find an attached tick, it can be sent to Army Public Health Center (APHC) through the MiLTICK program.
A big Thank You to all the staff that assisted with this effort:
From IRAHC Preventive Medicine:
Kerri S. Martin
Laura G. Stith
Sgt. 1st Class Demetrius Roberson
Sgt. Maryah Segarra
Spc. Antonio Vazquez
Spc. Donte Delk
From PH-A Knox Veterinary Services:
Cpt. Lauren Dodd
Sgt. Jessica West
Staff Sgt. Austin West